WHAT DO UBER AND THE GERMAN GENERAL STAFF HAVE IN COMMON?

  1. Question: What do they have in common?

Answer: Both manage their campaigns on too many fronts.

German General staff (luckily for us) lost it twice, despite its superiority of resources and professionalism. Now, it seems Uber is headed in the same direction. The difference is that if Uber is going to lose it, we lose too. As a Strategist, it’s clear for me that Uber’s plans for endless expansion will have the same end result.

german general staff

uber

The news about Uber in the last days sounds like reports from World War I or II.

Or like @travisbernard from Tech Crunch named it: Uber-mageddon

  • Uber was banned in Thailand and Spain.
  • Uber was banned in Delhi, due to the rape of a passenger.
  • Uber was sued in Portland.
  • Uber violated passengers’ Information Privacy.
  • Uber launched personal campaigns against opponents.

Please read this thoughtful article by Sriram Krishnan, written in defense of Uber in India.

https://medium.com/@sriramk/in-defense-of-uber-in-india-f81c4c6267f2

Uber map

Most of these issues were widely covered. The press didn’t pick up that Uber Israel launched anonymous campaigns against the Transport Minister (Israel Katz) via its advisers. It was denied on TV, but they were caught red handed. (Hebrew version) http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4591238,00.html

  1. Strategy or Culture, whose fault is it?

A few experts and top investors said that “The company culture eats strategy for breakfast”, while I think that opposite is true for Uber. Strategy twists arms for the excellent company culture. While you fight on many fronts, you unconsciously copy the style and behavior of opponents. This is true for regulators, unions and legal authorities, because it’s a feeling of surviving a war. Who talks about morals on the battlefield?

Just changing strategy (for the more realistic ones) will return its crown to the company culture, sympathy of the Press and the Public at large. This is no chance to win without their support.

Sometimes, the opposite is true. Uber actions cause all major players to unify against Uber.  It’s very similar to what the German General staff did that succeeded to unify sworn enemies, like Churchill and Roosevelt on one side and Stalin on other side. It didn’t leave any chance to the German Army.

  1. Alternative Strategy

I emphasize just one, among several possible options: the strategy of long distance bicycle riders.

The major principle is:

Conserve energy as much as possible for the times when it’s needed most.

  1. You do not need to be in the lead in any specific place or time. Allow your close competitors to lead in some places (like with regulators and unions).
  2. Give local companies the opportunity to lead in the countries where practices differ from Western business culture.
  3. Use M&A, like riders use energy boosting products to refresh at points across the way.

What’s going to happen if Uber continues its endless expansion with the same tenacity? It’s not hard to predict that the competitors like Lyft (that quietly improve UX) will override Uber soon, as they earn sympathy of the public and do not waste energy fighting with everyone.

Like marathoners put it: “You will smell my back.”

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